“The skills that made me a good founder, made me a bad employee” Harry Panter, Co-Founder and CEO, Housr
At only 22 years old, Harry Panter is the CEO and Co-Founder of Housr, a student housing app shaking up the real estate industry. Here he talks about starting a business at university, setting up the Young Directors and Founders Group and how a ‘say yes’ mindset has taken him a long way.
I had my business idea during freshers week at the University of Manchester and solidified it over a beer with mates at the student union during Two-Pint-Tuesday. What started as a conversation about frustrations among friends, became the idea for an app which allowed students to communicate directly with landlords and find a house with just a swipe. Four years on, Housr has seven employees, over 3,000 app users, has just secured a 600k round of investment and is venture-capital-backed by a US fund.
Starting a business while completing a degree wasn’t easy; I had to choose between university, Housr and my social life. But I realised there are many hours in a day when you aren’t asleep, and if you want to, you can get a lot done. After university I took a job with a consultancy and ran Housr alongside. It was exhausting trying to juggle both roles and I have a problem-solving mind which made my consultancy role a bit frustrating. The skills that made me a good founder, made me a bad employee.
I took the leap and decided to go full time with Housr. Being young is great when you start a business because you have plenty of time to fail fast, learn and move on. However, you are in unchartered waters – dealing with tasks and problems that are completely new. Being a founder can be a lonely place so I looked for organisations and institutions that could help me and joined the IoD.
Developing Housr has been a steep learning curve and the IoD has held my hand through each bump in the road. It provides business and legal support, training and an amazing network which has opened doors to investment and growth.
I set up a Young Directors and Founders Group in the Manchester area and we meet once a month to share stories and experiences. It’s great to be surrounded by people on a similar journey and hear their different perspectives. I am also Interim Chair for the IoD Manchester, and I hope I can set an example and encourage more young people to join.
To anyone thinking about running their own business I would say, just start, because you’ve got nothing to lose. If you’ve got an idea, write it down, come back to it and before you know it, you’ll have a presentation, a pitch and maybe investment. Take every opportunity and have a ‘yes’ mindset. You never know where it might lead.